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Revisiting 'Habitat' 50 Years Later

Architect Moshe Safdie talks about his most celebrated project and how it still influences housing today.
Moshe Safdie observes construction at Habitat 67, now half century old.
Moshe Safdie observes construction at Habitat 67, now half century old. Moshe Safdie/UQAM

Moshe Safdie, now 78, hadn’t even turned 30 when his first building, Habitat 67, was built.

The housing complex, a striking, 12-story massing of concrete cubes in Montreal, was based on his thesis project at McGill University. There he wrestled with the world of modern apartment design, which had mostly been reduced to austere, brick “Towers In The Park” and luxurious, minimalist glass boxes. Safdie wanted to create something that could be prefabricated and deliver open spaces, good views, and access to greenery in an urban environment for people of all incomes.